By: Suzanne Potter, Public News Service
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A new report shows the share of federal spending on children was at an all-time low in the fiscal year 2019. The 13th annual Children’s Budget Book, released today, finds the share of spending on children – at 7.21% – is down 10% in the past four years.
Bruce Lesley is president ofFirst Focus on Children, the nonprofit behind the report. He said the country needs to fund what’s most important: our kids’ future.
“The federal budget is a moral document and it really shows what your priorities are as a nation,” Lesley said. “And our nation is failing to invest in our kids’ future, and failing them.”
For the first time ever, the share we spend on things such as education and child-abuse prevention is less than what we spend on interest on the national debt. The president’s 2020 budget calls for even deeper cuts to kids’ programs and would direct billions of dollars to the border wall.
Lesley noted the federal deficit shot up sharply after the 2018 massive tax cut, which primarily benefited the wealthy and corporations. Now, he said, that debt is becoming a double-edged sword for the nation’s children.
“Interest on the national debt is squeezing the ability for Congress to make investments in kids,” he said. “But second, we’re leaving that debt for them to pay off.”
Congress is supposed to come to a budget agreement by the September 30 deadline. If they can’t agree, they will need to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government at existing levels. Last winter, a disagreement over funding for the border wall forced a record 35-day government shutdown.